The Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp) has unequivocally denounced the handiwork of both chambers of the National Assembly to exempt the National Assembly Service from the contributory pension scheme (CPS) which has been in practice in Nigeria for the past 18 years.
PenOp in a statement said National Assembly is intent to achieve this and already passed “Bill for an Act to amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014, to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board; and for Related Matters (HB 2025).”
PenOp without mincing word said that the passage of this bill sets a dangerous precedent that will not augur well for hardworking Nigerians, working across the private and public sector, who depend on the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) for retirement security and stability.
Reminding the National Assembly of what pension was before CPS, which ostensibly it was set to drag National Assembly workers back to, PenOp reiterated that the introduction of the CPS in Nigeria marked a departure from the unsustainable pension schemes the country had been operating in the past. Branding the CPS as the answer, PenOp explained that this scheme has brought transparency, international best practice and guaranteed peace of mind to millions of pensioners. For these reasons and many more, the need for the above bill is indeed unfathomable and unjustifiable.
PenOp expressed grave concern regarding the way this bill was passed; pointing out that the passage of this bill seems to have been unnecessarily expedited and shrouded in secrecy with very little engagement and input from critical stakeholders—as it was passed during the National Assembly’s recess. The statement digs in, “Indeed, it is disturbing that this bill did not go through any public hearing, a key component of the legislative process that allows stakeholders to have their voices and opinions heard for possible inclusion in the process. If this was done, pertinent issues such as the amendment of retirement age, funding of pension liability, and the potential debt burden on government—all of which are affected by this bill—would have been debated and brought to the fore.
“The National Assembly prides itself as the heart of our democracy. Indeed, the halls of the National Assembly are the people’s halls. As such, it is extremely important that the legislative authority the National Assembly wields is in no way subverted to serve vested interests in passing anti-people legislation. The exemption of any agency or group from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) holds grave consequences for the nation’s struggling fiscal position and will potentially upend the retirement security of pensioners who have given their blood and sweat in service to our great nation,” the statement declared.
PenOp therefore, without reservations, said it considers the passage of this bill a procedural anomaly and legislative immorality. “Hence, we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to note this grave anomaly and join us in calling on the National Assembly to reconsider its decision as well as enjoin the Executive and the Judiciary to outrightly condemn this action.
“More specifically, we call on the National Economic Council, the Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and all relevant government stakeholders to look into this anti-people bill and ensure that it is not signed into law. Finally, should this bill proceed to Mr. President, we call on him to kindly refuse to assent to this bill in the interest of the people, the sustainability of the nation’s pension system and the flawed procedure in which this bill went through.”